He abandoned his light, bantering tone. "I am invited on sufferance so far, I think. It will take some time before I find true acceptance. But I must have passed some inspection for I also have been extended an invitation to a dinner at the home of the Baron Kippingale in a fortnight. That will be my presentation to the wider society of the area, I suppose."
To her shame, India regretted that he did not pursue his flirtation. She gathered her composure; he had made an unexceptionable observation. "A most suitable occasion to make your bow," she said. "The baron's invitations are coveted. My brother and I are honoured when we receive them."
"The baron--and Lady Kippingale--are fortunate that you accept," he corrected gently, as they arrived at the vicarage door.
India lifted her head to say goodnight, albeit silently, to the comet as was her custom. It streamed across the heavens over her escort's left shoulder. His face was illumined by the light flickering from the parlour window. It was an appealing face, and she thought she detected humour, sad experience, and more than a little wisdom gleaming in his deep-set eyes. She reached to grip the door latch.
He said suddenly, "The wine! Miss Pottersby, I must thank you for the elderberry wine. Indeed, it had a subtle elegance of flavour."
She coloured again, and again hoped he could not see the betraying flush. The wine had been a foolish, impulsive thought when her brother had made his duty call upon the newcomer. Trevayne was a man of wealth and discrimination. She should not have offered such a poor product for his delectation. Nevertheless, he was being very good about it. So she said, "If you enjoyed it the elderberry, you shall have a bottle of my comet wine; I think it will defy identification."
"I shall not ask what is in it, but after this night, shall indeed think it touched with starshine."
He was flirting again, ever so delicately. She shivered with delight. "Sir, fulsome compliments should be left to park saunterers. For the wine, a simple thank you from a merchant gentleman would suffice." She tossed him a smile over her shoulder, and closed the door on his shout of laughter. She barely heard his words through the thick oak door.
"Thank you, Miss Pottersby."